3 men in filing room, facing camera
Filing room at the Mendocino Mill, c. 1910. Left to right: Henry Swanson, Roy Hansen, Carl Swanson. (Gift of Emery Escola)

May 22, 1875 – Gustave Henry Swanson was born in Smaland, Sweden. Henry left home at the age of 16, going first to Canada, where he worked for a year, before immigrating to northern California.

In 1902, Henry joined the crew of the Caspar sawmill. Hoping to become a filer, “the most exacting and well-paid position in saw milling, he got a position in the Caspar filing room under Jack Furlong, who trained many men in the filing and hammering of bandsaws in his long career in the lumber industry.”

Henry was a good pupil, quickly becoming an expert, and took charge of the filing room at the Mendocino mill. He worked for the Mendocino Lumber Company until the closing of the mill in 1938. He then went to the filing room of the Fort Bragg mill where he continued in a supervisory capacity into his 80s, when ill health forced him to retire.

On November 30, 1956, Henry passed away at Redwood Coast hospital in Fort Bragg after a long illness. He was a fifty-year member of the Mendocino Masonic lodge, a member of the Mendocino Royal Arch Chapter, a Knight Templar, and a member of the local Eastern Star chapter.

He was survived by his wife, Jennie Swanson of Mendocino; daughters, Rosalie Gabbert, Willits, and Florence Gabbert, Mendocino, and a son, Mervyn Swanson, Mendocino, and eight grandchildren. He also left a brother, Carl Swanson of Mendocino and two sisters, Mrs. Karen Arcadi and Mrs. Clara Karlsson, of Sweden.

Funeral services were held at the Mendocino Presbyterian church with Rev. Martin Eidsath officiating. Lenore Keesling was the organist, and Barbara Stenberg sang “In the Garden” and “Garden of Prayer. Pallbearers were Henry’s former associates in the filing room: Albert Haarby, Ralph Robbins. Glen Berglund, Clarence Newgard, Rino Bianche and Joe Holiman.

Mendocino Book Two by Dorothy Bear and Beth Stebbins – Meet the Ford family, founders of Mendocino. Learn about Henry Meiggs and the Mendocino Lumber Company and years of early local history. $19